Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Jamadiul-Awwal / Jamadiul-Akhir 1423 H
August 2002
Volume 15-08 No:188

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Islamic Thoughts


Triple Talaq, Mehr or Inheritance...What are the real issues?
15 Muslims in Queen's Honour List


Triple Talaq, Mehr or Inheritance...
What are the real issues?

There are already murmurs of protest among a section of Muslims against the judgement of
the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court that seeks to place civil restrictions
on the arbitrary nature of talaq as practised in India.

By M. Hanif Lakdawala

Even two months after the judgement of the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on talaq, Muslims scholars and the ulema are yet to form a firm opinion on it, and a vertical split seems to exist about its impact. The verdict is welcomed by some, as it has gone down well with them. However, there are others who fear that the judgement is anti-Islam and they consider it as an interference in the Muslim Personal Law.

There are already murmurs of protest among a section of Muslims against the judgement that seeks to place civil restrictions on the arbitrary nature of talaq as practised in India. The court ruled that divorce between a Muslim couple cannot be taken at face value. It must be convincingly proved in a court of law under the civil procedure code and the Evidence Act. A mere statement, written or oral, by a Muslim man would henceforth not be considered sufficient proof of his having divorced his wife. The Bench pointed out that all tenets of Muslim laws prescribed that a period of reconciliation should necessarily precede divorce. It said that divorce registration made under the Wakf Act was customary in nature and “unless the factum of talaq is proved”, the certificates issued under this law would have no legal sanctity. Such a safeguard was necessary for stopping the abuse of the process of divorce by Muslim men. The full Bench was constituted after a single and division Bench gave conflicting interpretations. Till now, a Muslim man could divorce his wife simply through a written or verbal statement. In fact, the woman need not be present at all during the act! The bench comprising justices B.H. Marllapalle, N.V.Dabhoklar and N.H. Patil, in their 88-page judgement categorically stated that Muslim men enjoy no absolute rights to divorce, the bench held that Islam does not in any way encourage divorce, though it may put the men at a higher pedestal than the wife. On the oft- resorted-to weapon of affidavits and declarations in courts by Muslim men seeking divorce, as proof of their having obtained divorce, the court held that without convincing evidence on the fulfillment of procedural obligations, such divorces would not be held valid. The court has also held that a husband cannot declare his intention to divorce his wife in her absence.”The statement has to be addressed to her,” the court stated. The bench was hearing a petition filed by Dagdu Pathan, 40, from Renapur in Latur district. Pathan had challenged a maintenance petition filed by his divorced wife, Rahimbi, 31. In view of the killing fields of Gujarat and considering the all round confusion, much was expected from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board Hyderabad meet, to throw light on the said judgement.

AIMPLB did not discuss the judgement nor gave its opinion. As usual, AIMPLB reacted to the judgment and called for the meeting of its legal committee to decide the future course of action. It seems much confusion still persists with regard to the High Court judgement and the Board has no idea from where to start. Thus the community is still in the dark about the implication of this judgement on their day-to- day life. Most of the Muslim women, Islamic Voice spoke to welcomed the judgment as they argue that it comes in the light of true Quranic injunctions. Welcoming the judgement, Muslim women activists term the judgement as according to the spirit of Islam. One of the woman member of the AIMPLB, on the condition of anonymity said, “this judgement is totally in consonance with the directives of the Quran. The view that the Muslim husband enjoys an arbitrary, unilateral power to inflict instant divorce is not in accordance with Islam. The unbridled power of a Muslim husband to divorce his wife in one sitting through ‘triple talaq’ has no legal roots in Islam. She argued that “the Prophet states that “of all things which have been permitted, divorce is the most hated by Allah.”

Islam discourages divorce in principle and permits it only when it has become altogether impossible for the parties to live together in peace. Advocate Nilofer Akhter, activist and a Personal Law Board member opines that though the judgement is totally in consonance with the directives of the Quran, the reform must be within the community. She said that the “Muslim husband enjoys an arbitrary, unilateral power to inflict instant divorce and this is not in accordance with Islam. Islam has always accorded women a status at par with men and its laws have been so framed as to prevent injustice against women. Islam discourages divorce in principle and permits it only when it has become altogether impossible for the parties to live together in peace”. The often repeated AIMPLB argument that reforms if any must be from within the community and no outside interference will be accepted, though true, sounds very hollow in the face of the Board track record. How long the Board is going to concentrate only on the legal battle, although forced on it?

All the resolutions, pertaining to work at the grassroots level and to launch social reform movement in the community, passed in various AIMPLB sessions still remain on paper. Just concentrating on the legal front is meaningless, as such judgements would keep on coming unless the rights given by Islam to women are implemented at the grassroots level. The Muslim women in India are a heterogeneous group and have their own divisions, classes, and their own specific issues and problems. Ironically, the community is not only oblivious of the atrocities on the women, but also is apprehensive of any organisation or individuals espousing their cause. The various fora of the community have been focusing on the religious issues. Social, economical, and political issues pertaining to Muslim women are often analysed and discussed through the religious angle only that get often converted into an ideological debate. The correct analysis of the problem faced by the Muslim women still eludes us. What are the real issues? Purdah, divorce, polygamy or education, basic rights or poverty? Advocate Nilofer Akhter says that the Board had failed to realise how serious is the issue of the exploitation of Muslim women. “In my day to day practice I come across several cases of Muslim women, who are denied their mehr and inheritance” She said. “ The community has developed no mechanism nor any platform through which women can fight for their legitimate rights. Time and again, the Muslim society has failed to give women their rights given to them by Islam. The need is for women to get more organised”.

AIMPLB member Uzma Nahid believes that the recent spate of court judgement on Muslim women’s divorce cases is the result of all round confusion within the community.” No doubt, social reform must be from within the community, but it needs the combined efforts of all sections of the community” she said.” Such reforms in the marriage laws are enforceable in Bangladesh, Brunei, Syria, Pakistan, Morocco, Malaysia, Jordan and Iran”. The male dominated AIMPLB has failed time and again to have any concrete solutions to the problems confronting Muslim women, be it, the issues of triple talaq, mehr, polygamy or inheritance. Even the promise to give greater representation to women in the Board has never materialised.

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15 Muslims in Queen's Honour List

London: British industrialist Ghulam Kaderbhoy Noon has been awarded the Knighthood in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours for the citizens of Britain. Noon runs the lucrative ready-meals industry and is estimated to be worth 50 million sterling pounds. He had recently donated one lakh pound to the ruling Labour Party of Britain. Several sources have linked the honour to cash-for-favours policy of the Labour Party. Perween Warsi, 52 was awarded the CBE. Warsi runs the Sauda A Foods and employs 1300 people producing 1.5 million meals a week. Zaha Hadid, Iraq-born architect who teaches architecture at Columbia and Harvard Universities, has also been honoured with the CBE. OBE (Order of British Empire) has been conferred on Waqar Azmi, former Chief Executive, Worcestershire Racial Equality Council for services to community life. MBE (Member of British Empire) has been given to Naseem Abookbaker, co-ordinator, Mushkil Asaan Services, to London. Among others who figure in the MBE list are Md. Idris, special constable, Faruque Ahmed for services to the community in East London, Suleman Nagdi, founder, services to the Muslim community in Leicester, Md. Abdur Rahman, services to primary care in Wolverhampton, Taifur Rashid, Tower Hamlet Race Equality Council, Kutbuddin Ahmed Shikder, services to Muslim community in East London and Ismail Ahmed Rahman, services to the community in Manchester. Among the overseas Muslims, the OBE has been conferred on Khoja Muslim leader, Prince Saddruddin Agha Khan and Shanawaz Jan Mohammad for humanitarian services and community services, respectively.

Twenty Sikhs and Hindus also received the honours.

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